Daily routines are the building blocks of life. It’s how we ensure that the important stuff always gets done, like having food on our table. Having a solid routine can make or break your productivity. It helps eliminate unnecessary stress and makes life so much more peaceful. If you haven’t given much thought to what your daily or weekly routines are, here’s your chance. I’m sharing how to create routines you’ll stick to today.
You might be thinking that I’m one of those superhumans that can decide I’m going to have a routine and then magically I’m doing it. I’m so not. I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to come up with routines that stick. But you know what? Over time, it’s become easier and easier to establish solid routines that take the thought and stress out of daily life. Here’s my best advice.
#1 – Baby Steps
If you’re thinking about ALL the things you want to start doing, cool your jets for a sec. I’m glad you’re feeling motivated, but trying to do it all at once usually doesn’t work and only leads to frustration and burnout. Don’t try to add too many things at once. If you’re like me, there’s a million things you want to improve. But if you spread your focus too thin, you won’t be successful at any of them. If you want long term success, you’ll have to play the long game. Remember, good routines start with baby steps.
#2 – Think about your values
It’s going to be a lot easier to stick to a routine if you know why you’re doing it. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all of the things that you ‘should‘ be doing. But what do YOU want? What matters to you? Only you can answer that.
Is being physically healthy really important to you? Maybe start with the rhythm and routine of meal planning and grocery shopping. Is deepening your spiritual life really important to you? Consider having a ritual in which you pray, meditate, or read sacred text. The important thing is that you think through what’s most important to you and work on that first.
#3 – Think about your cornerstone
What’s going to make the biggest impact on your life? Put another way, what’s the one habit or routine you can develop that will make doing the rest that much easier? Are you chronically sleep-deprived? Maybe you’re hangry and exhausted every single afternoon. Or are you always scrambling to get to work on time? Do you always feel guilty for not praying or meditating like you want to? Any of these areas would be good places to start.
Here are some common cornerstone habits:
- Getting more sleep
- Waking up early
- Eating healthier
- Getting your clothes + lunch ready the night before
- Making your bed every morning
Pick ONE that will make a big impact and work on adding that routine to your daily life.
#4 – Know yourself
This is an important and often neglected tidbit. It’s so easy to envision the ideal version of yourself and then put unrealistic expectations on yourself. I’m not saying don’t shoot high and believe you can change, because you definitely can. What I’m saying is that it really helps if you get in touch with yourself. What excites you? Are there tasks that you dread? What comes easier to you and what will you need to work for?
For example, are you a morning person (a lark) or a night owl? Knowing this and embracing this about yourself can help you set up the best routine for you. If you’re a lark, stop trying to stay up late to read. If you’re a night owl, consider scheduling your workouts for a time that aren’t first thing in the morning.
#5 – Build on current rhythms
One of the best ways to start a new habit is to use “If this then that” mentality, often called habit stacking. If you cook dinner, then do the dishes. If you brush your teeth, then wash your face. Routines are essentially just habits that are stacked together. Here’s an example of habit stacking for an evening routine. You probably brush your teeth before bed every night. Now, while you’re brushing your teeth, pick out your clothes for the next day. After you’re done brushing your teeth, you can pack a quick lunch. As a night owl, I find that I NEVER want to do these things in the morning. Stacking habits into my pre-existing evening routine makes my morning routine so much smoother.
#6 – Make it enjoyable
This tip has gone such a long way in helping me establish routines, particularly my morning one. When I started waking up early to read for fun, it was a game changer for me. Before, I couldn’t convince myself NOT to snooze the alarm if I was just going to wake up and do what felt like chores, even if it was something I valued like reading my Bible or exercising. But waking up to read? Count me in.
I only spend about 5-10 minutes reading in the morning before I start the rest of the routine, but it’s enjoyable enough for me that I was able to establish a routine that has stuck. Try thinking about something enjoyable you could add to your routines. Instead of dreading them, you’ll have something to look forward to.
Types of routines you should consider
Wanting to establish routines but drawing a blank? Here are some crucial areas where you can create routines to improve your life.
- Morning routine
- Evening routine
- Food routine
- Cleaning routine
A final note
Remember that the most important part of setting routines that stick is that you keep at it. Don’t be discouraged; habits are hard to change! If you keep working at it, eventually you’ll get there and your routines will be the building blocks for a happy, productive, peaceful life.